Many years ago I was marginally involved with the South West Independent Photographers Association, SWIPA, who produced for a while, a monthly magazine called Light Reading. Photography in the early 90s was still having an identity crisis (ongoing since the 1830s), striving to be recognised as an art form, especially in relation to funding; it really wanted to be taken seriously and SWIPA was on a commendable mission to reinforce this status.
I came across a copy amongst my archive of photo stuff recently – a copy I’d kept as I’d written an article about a project the Bristol Women’s Photography Group were doing at the time, and I remember being pleased to read the magazine each issue, and to be part of the photographic scene in Bristol (also being a volunteer on Watershed’s long defunct photography advisory board, and even a South West Arts advisor at some point) but in retrospect, and especially in the light of the current publication mentioned below, Light Reading has an air of self-conscious intellectualism about it that belies its title – and it cost £1.50 even in 1994!
So, it’s great to find that paper-based photography mags are alive and well in the face of ‘the death of printing’ (see Guardian article about the exaggeration of this rumour). Not only good to find photographic publications out on the streets, free, but even better to find one that’s born in Bristol, but with an appetite for the International – Vignette. They produce a quarterly A3 size newspaper with a theme in each issue that incorporates a wide range of photographic styles, all nicely complemented by their website. They’re taking it seriously, but they don’t get too serious – good work team!